The White House and Department of Defense, including Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. Mark Milley, are finally acknowledging veteran groups, ex-special forces groups, and non-governmental organizations working to extract Americans and coalition allies following the United States’ sudden withdrawal from Afghanistan, which left hundreds of American passport holders, green card holders, and Afghans with special immigrant visas (SIVs) behind.
Milley “met for the first time with representatives from a number of the groups, according to eight people familiar with discussions and an informal readout sent to volunteers,” according to Politico, which also noted Thursday that the White House has approved intensified “cooperation” between the Department of Defense and these groups to help evacuate the remaining Americans.
“Under the proposal discussed at the meeting, the U.S. government, including both the Pentagon and the State Department, would act as the central point of contact for the various groups coordinating rescues,” Politico noted. “President Joe Biden had not approved a new endeavor, but rather an intensification of existing coordination efforts.”
“Once approved, we would then work as a fusion center for all of our organizations to deconflict the ground and air space,” notification sent to the volunteer groups said. “This will permit us to move people and get them to safety — providing top cover for all that we do.”
“The new effort will focus in part on deconflicting the various lists of potential evacuees that each of the groups has independently put together, and verifying each person’s status,” Politico continued.
Volunteer groups have been working since the Taliban blitzed into Kabul, Afghanistan, in mid-August, racing against the clock to help evacuate hundreds of Americans and individuals in danger from the Taliban takeover. Their operations ramped up in the final days before the official evacuation, as conditions around Hamid Karzai International Airport deteriorated and American citizens became unable to clear checkpoints to board flights.
Many of these same groups have continued their efforts following the U.S. withdrawal but have found it difficult to navigate demands from the Taliban and to tangle with the Biden administration’s State Department, which has been largely unhelpful in getting flights off the ground, according to sources within one organization that spoke to The Daily Wire.
Americans remain on the ground in Afghanistan. A pair of Qatar Airlines flights departed Kabul late last week after around 50 tons of aid was delivered to the Taliban on the ground, but flights at Mazar-i-Sharif are reportedly still grounded. Only American passport holders and foreign nationals are being allowed to board the planes, according to Daily Wire sources on the ground in Afghanistan, and some Americans are opting to stay on the ground rather than leave family members and relatives, who hold green cards or SIVs, behind.
No one from the State Department attended the partnership meeting, Politico noted, but the State Department told the outlet they are cooperating.
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Author: Emily Zanotti